Deferment – Or why I'm getting out of NYC this weekend…

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So I’ve been training for the NYC Marathon for the past six or so months.

But here’s the thing – By “training for the past six or so months,” I mean, “doing everything from going to physical therapy to limiting the time I go out, or drink, getting to sleep ridiculously early (even for me) getting up even earlier to go running, and when running hurt too much, biking,” etc.

But of course, like there always is, there’s more to the picture… Traveling over 300,000 miles so far this year, (I hit the 300k actual flown number earlier this week) and spending more than two nights each week since January (averaged out) in a hotel, has limited my training. Plus, earlier this year, to relieve the pain of running, I started cheating on running with my racing bike, and shock of shocks, turns out I LOVED biking, to the point where it actually helped me in other races!

So… Between all of my biking, my hardly ever being in town for actual long races in prep for the NYC Marathon, and a host of other reasons, (most starting with the acronym HARO and ending with the term “business travel,” I’ve made what I believe to be the smart decision, and have deferred out of the 2010 ING NYC Marathon on November 1st, 2009.

First off, let’s understand what deferment means – Since NYC is one of the hardest races to get into in the country, (you either live here and run nine New York Road Runner-sanctioned races plus volunteer at one the previous year to guarantee entry, you enter the lottery (55k+ enter, about 10k or less get in) or you are one of those few freaks of nature people who run a sub 2:30 marathon and are actually invited), once you’re guaranteed entry, you hold onto that like oxygen on a leaking plane. If you have to bail out, New York Road Runners (NYRR) is happy to offer you guaranteed entry the next year, while keeping this year’s fees, and allowing you to pay full price for entry the following year. But you give them your $150+ this year, and even more than that based on what they raise it to next year, because you know how valuable the slot is.

It’s called deferment. It’s a hard word to pronounce, so it often sounds like many other words: “quit,” or “failure,” or “not having the heart,” are a few that come to my mind, specifically. Other words that “deferment” occasionally sound like include “loser,” “not as good as anyone else on your team,” and “pitiful.” I will point out, however, that those words are rarely spoken – when you SAY the word “deferment,” it sounds just like it – “de-FUR-ment.” It’s only when you close your eyes at night does that word sound like any of the ones above. See, your mind will always be infinitely louder than your lungs. Remember – when we talk, we’re using 100% of our vocal capacity. When we think, to ourselves, in the darkness of our bedrooms, by ourselves, we have a whole 90%-92% of our brains that we’ve never even touched yet. So by yourself, in the dark, the brain is always louder than the vocal chords by a factor of 10x, at least.

So yes… A week or so ago, I deferred from the 2009 ING NYC Marathon. I did it for all the reasons listed above – I didn’t have the time to train – I got too focused (and enjoyed more) the training for the completion of my first Half-Ironman (which I did, on October 4, 2009, in 6:58:22.) Lots of reasons.

And based on the majority of those reasons – the Half-Ironman, knowing that now that I’ve done a half, I can do a full, which includes a full-marathon, and if I decide to enter one, then the NYC Marathon has to happen as a training run, etc., and a host of others – I decided I didn’t need to run the ING NYC Marathon this year. So I swallowed what little pride I had, and I clicked the “Defer” button at – And I won’t lie – it hurt – as most “right” decisions do… But in the end, it was the smarter thing to do, and I’m even a little glad I did.

But I’m also human – And I know that if I stay in town and watch the race, or the pre-race, or the expo, or the thousands of people walking around NYC with their NYC 2009 sweatshirts, it’ll hurt. And they deserve better – as do I. So I’m getting out of town. This weekend will find me in Eloy, Arizona, jumping from airplanes at Skydive Arizona, before giving a pre-planned speech on Monday in Tucson.

With that, I’m using this blog post to wish all my friends – Ken, the NY Harriers, Team SBR, Sarah, my 75-year-old friend, George Hirsch, and 37,000 others the run of their lives. Run fast, run true, run pure, and like I did in 2006, defy gravity. I know you can.

I’ll see you out there in 2010.

-Peter Shankman

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